Road trip

Feb. 13th, 2013 09:34 pm
snousle: (goggles)
Currently in Bend, OR for a little snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor. I drove up on Monday and hit the slopes with my buddy Chris yesterday and today. There hasn't been much in the way of fresh snow but the groomed runs are still pretty nice. Been doing a lot of work, too, so on the whole there hasn't been much time to sit around and write.

I got a last-minute deal on a lovely vacation rental across the river from downtown. Just $100 a night and it's NICE - way, way, way better than your typical hotel. You can't just waltz in, you have to sign a contract, and in a curious twist it is actually required that you own a cell phone to close the deal. You also have to do your own laundry, but that's not such a big deal since there's a washer and dryer right in the unit. Anyway, what good fortune. I'm not very fond of hotels and motels, but this place is exceedingly private, quiet, and tasteful. Just how I like it.

Tomorrow we're heading off to Breitenbush for a faerie gathering. Normally I'm not so much into the woo-woo but this year I might suspend my usual eye-rolling and approach it all more sincerely. But I'm also going to bring a lot of whiskey and beef jerky, the hippy-dippy vegetarian angle is still not hugely appealing.

After that, it's up to BC to visit my dad, and then Vancouver to see my mum for a bit. Then, who knows? I'm sure there will be interesting things to report...
snousle: (angel)
Sad to see that my mentor and former boss, David Cox, passed away unexpectedly:


http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2013/01/22/david-cox-genomics-pioneer-emblematic-of-pfizers-new-era-dies-unexpectedly/


David selected me for both my former position at Perlegen, and my current position at Envoy. More than any single person, it was his belief in my talent that got me where I am today. He was also a superstar in the genetics world, and ranks among the most influential scientists of the 20th century.


This really breaks my heart. He was such a great leader, and did so much for me both personally and professionally, I hardly know where to begin.
snousle: (rakko)
At the suggestion of one of my buddies here in Ukiah, I had a dinner party tonight, the first of my own for a long time. Cobbler's children, and all that; I've been doing it for money for so long now that I had forgotten to do it for my own friends.

The work kind of kicked my ass, since I made two pastry type things from scratch. One, my usual squash ravioli, which I served with lemon beurre blanc. The other, apple turnovers. These are both really labor intensive, particularly in small amounts like that. Also, as it turns out, both are better frozen immediately after assembly than held for even a few hours in their raw state. They both get sticky and hard to handle over the course of the day, which harms them more than the freezing does. Next time, they're getting made in advance for sure.

The other dishes were a tomato and grilled eggplant salad with arugula and mozzarella, panko fried prawns and fennel with a saffron flavored sake reduction sauce, and braised short ribs with lentils, fingering potatoes, and collards. The prawns were both a disappointment and a triumph; disappointing because the prawns themselves were not very good quality, but the sauce was brilliant. I had obsessed over the question of exactly what the perfect foil for a deep fried prawn would be, and the light, sweet, aromatic liquid, with just a bit of cornstarch for body, filled the role exactly right. A few pomegranate seeds rounded it off nicely.

There were supposed to be eleven guests, including ourselves, but one was not feeling well, and another spaced out and forgot to come. This didn't matter so much but it does make seating awkward when it happens. We ended up ditching the extra table, extending our main dining table, and squeezing all nine of us around it. This was a lot better than trying to split it into tables of four and five, which always makes me feel left out somehow.

One thing made me feel really good, though. Dave, who had suggested this in the first place, had NEVER attended a formal multi course dinner before. Not even once. Now, this might not be the most important thing in the world, and if he was really into that he could have always just gone to a fancy restaurant. But finding out that it was his First Time made it kind of special, and reminded me of the kind of magic that a good dinner can bring about.

Otherwise, I'm feeling a little ambivalent about this sort of thing nowadays. I think that in the future I'm not going to do very many of these touchy, high concept dishes anymore. So much washing up!!! There's lots of ways of having a fun party, and I'm thinking that trying to outdo the masters with these heroic concoctions is not where it's at. There's no shame in just serving up a big pot of spaghetti, and I need my energy for other things right now.
snousle: (hat)
This keeps happening: now it turns out that eating quinoa is roughly as bad as barbecueing bald eagles.

It seems like no matter what you do, whenever the strong touch the weak, the weak suffer. Sometimes I think there is no point in ever trying to do anything good in the world.
snousle: (scruffy)
Richardson Grove:

snousle: (cigar)
"My point is that we are all pharmaceutically-compromised now. From SSRIs to Adderal, from Xanax to taurine and caffeine energy drinks, it's harder and harder to draw very clear lines between what chemicals are illicit and what chemicals aren't. We don't begrudge injured athletes drugs that alleviate pain and speed recovery. And the distinctions between preventing pain and improving performance will become harder to maintain."

I agree. The consensual use of drugs doesn't bother me, but the way things like this become effectively mandatory, as automobiles have, concerns me a lot:

The pharmaceutical path to superworkers

Is science phasing out sleep?

I use Adrafinil occasionally, which is similar to modafinil, since it opens up new possibilities, such as staying up after midnight. But I don't enjoy it. I like sleeping. It would be terrible if that were taken from me.

Like so many things, it's great when you have it, but it's hell when everyone else does.
snousle: (disapproving otter)
Sigh. Have to say I am not even slightly surprised:

This is a real weakness in medical research, and the nature of the publication process means that it's hard to overcome. The truth usually comes out eventually, but it takes WAY too long.

Part of the problem may be that eating fresh fish does help, but when you extract the oil and put it in a capsule, you lose the effect.

In the meanwhile, a bit of (ahem) "man to man" advice: not even otters like it when you take fish oil.

:-P
snousle: (scruffy)
I thought this was a hoax at first. But it appears to be real!

I present you with the Chinese Water Deer:

snousle: (takoguma)
There is yet another strange and unusual thing in our lives right now. This time it's not my drama, but Bill's. He's given me the OK to talk openly about this, because I have a wide net and might come up with some interesting leads. So here we go.

Bill was disposing of some old papers last week when one got away and floated off to the side. He picked it up, and it was something from his army days - orders for himself and one of his buddies. The name was Joeseph Lavigne.

Well, this being the Internet age, he did a Web search, and boy did he turn up a whopper. It seems that Joe was convicted for the rape of his five year old daughter, about fifteen years ago. Trouble is, it seems pretty clear that he didn't do it.

Long story short: the testimony of his daughter at the time was confused, because the assailant "looked like daddy", and there was no physical evidence to be had. But the jury convicted him anyway. There's some relationship with another murder trial in which he and his wife were to provide testimony against someone named Mark Berry, but I don't totally understand it all right now.

A circuit court overturned the conviction last year, due to the lack of evidence and the fact that his daughter, who is now around 20, said that it definitely wasn't him. Everyone in his family testified in his defense.

Then, the Supreme Court of West Virginia re-tried him, and convicted him again. He's now back in jail, probably for the rest of his life. The reason for this absolutely shocked me to my core. In the words of Putnam County Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia:

"And that's what bothered me about this case was it was reversed, quite frankly, on issues of fact. In my opinion that kind of usurped the authority of a jury -- in our country juries decide who's guilty and who's not, not judges or prosecutors," Sorsaia said.

That's from this news summary.

I had to read this about ten times. He was bothered that the case was reversed on issues of fact. I guess facts don't matter when set against the judgment of twelve random jurors.

Anyway, it's long and complicated, and it's more than I have been able to absorb just now. But this is now Bill's main obsession, and he's considering ways in which the governor of West Virginia might be persuaded to issue a pardon.

There is a smattering of information available on the Web - pretty much any search containing "West Virginia" and "Joeseph Lavigne" will come up with relevant details, including the PDF transcript of the trial in which the original conviction was overturned.

It's a fascinating but very sad thing to read about. If you feel like getting spun up over the injustices of the American court system, you couldn't find a better example. Any thoughts on this you might have are welcome, and I will relay them to Bill for his perusal.

A couple relevant links:
http://crimeseekers.net/forums/archive/index.php/t-5325.html
http://www.courtswv.gov/supreme-court/calendar/2012/briefs/oct12/11-0853order.pdf
snousle: (river)
One gets the sense there's some serious content behind this one. I like it!

It's unusually appropriate because at work, I've *always* been "number two". I report straight to the chief, I avoid commanding others whenever I can, and I'm forever the second author on that important paper. Just how I like it.

Your results:
You are Will Riker
Will Riker
80%
Deanna Troi
70%
James T. Kirk (Captain)
65%
Chekov
65%
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
60%
Mr. Scott
55%
Jean-Luc Picard
55%
Beverly Crusher
55%
Geordi LaForge
45%
Spock
42%
Data
41%
Worf
40%
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
40%
Mr. Sulu
35%
Uhura
30%
At times you are self-centered
but you have many friends.
You love many women men, but the right
woman man could get you to settle down.


Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Quiz

snousle: (cigar)
The series of dramas with budgets and appropriations has got me thinking about how to prepare for however its going to end. It's clear by this point that it isn't going to be pretty.

The current US national debt, divided by the number of US residents, is about $45K per person. Whether it's paid off through budget cuts and taxes, inflated away, or defaulted on, it's going to come out of someone's pocket. One way or another, the average American must now devote a full year of their economic output to paying it off. Whatever the situation, it's going to be equivalent to SOME sort of tax, because, on average, everyone is already $45K less wealthy than they think they are. The only question is how evenly that burden will be distributed.

This is on top of the current trillion-dollar annual deficit. The US has to reduce the debt AND reduce the deficit to remain sustainable. That's three thousand per person per year just to tread water.

Anyway, understanding the situation starts with understanding the major segments of the federal budget. Here's a handy chart:



At a high level, it's easy to understand because it breaks down into approximate fifths. You can make a little tune out of it: Em Em Ess Ess Dee Dee Dee. That's Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, Defense Department, and Discretionary - those cover the first four fifths. What remains is "mandatory" spending (mandated by law, not subject to executive adjustment), and interest on the debt itself. All together, this federal spending accounts for about 24% of the whole economy. Trouble is, federal taxes are only collecting about 18% of GDP. The result is that 6% of all economic activivity is being paid for on credit, creating a hot potato of debt that nobody wants to own up to. This is demosclerosis in action, and is not a partisan issue - it appears to be the terminal condition of all stable democratic societies.

The degree of change required really is spectacular. Just to balance the budget, without paying off any existing debt, about two of those fifths has to go away, or taxes must increase by 50% across the board, forever, to bridge the gap created by future entitlement spending. Presumably the ideal solution would be some sort of compromise between the two, but even so, the necessary cuts are deep ones.

The peculiar thing about this situation is that so many people seem eager to take on more of that burden themselves. Old white Republicans who live on Social Security and Medicare want to "shrink government", which you can't do without shrinking entitlements, while young and productive workers are disproportionately willing to pay higher taxes to keep retirees from being cast out on the street. That's how it looks to me, anyway. There seems to be some disconnect there; it's not as if news media act to improve anyone's understanding. Very few budget bloviators can cite even remotely accurate figures, resulting in such responses as "eliminate foreign aid!!!" as if that's going to make any difference.

If the accumulated debt isn't paid through the collection of taxes, then it turns into a sort of tax on assets. Printing more money devalues existing money and serves as a tax on cash. Defaulting on the debt - presumably as a result of some constitutional crisis or collapse of government - means that investments based on treasury bonds are worth a lot less than we had hoped, and the value of those bonds is part of the valuation of all kinds of other assets, including a big chunk of 401K retirement accounts and other long-term stores of value. Social Security cuts draw down the effective wealth of everyone, whether they have other assets or not. If we assume some sort of partial or full default, the result for everyone with positive net worth is that their wealth is immediately diminished, but nobody can tell by how much.

It is useful to frame the debt battle as a contest between "income people" and "wealth people". You can imagine everyone's financial status as a dot on a scatterplot of income vs. net worth, and contemplate where on that plane the burden of the deficit will fall. Will it land mostly on the upper left, or the lower right? Nobody knows! But there will be a pitched battle between those who want to maintain the value of treasury bonds, and those who want to set them on fire and watch them burn.

(Curiously, I note that a number of "patriots" who like to make a stink about "upholding the constitution" will happily ignore the language of the 14th amendment declaring that "The validity of the public debt of the United States... shall not be questioned." Fucking hypocrites.)

Anyway, it's going to be interesting. I remain somewhat optimistic - just a few years ago, the California budget situation seemed impossible, so I was surprised to hear that our Democratic governor has just issued a balanced budget - suck on that, Republicans! - illustrating that seemingly small twists of fate can reverse even the most hopeless situations. But the federal problem remains much, much larger, and there's no avoiding the pain.

So enough with the wailing and gnashing of teeth, it's time to hunker down and ride it out. For the past ten years, I've anticipated and positioned our household for a future of economic disruption and/or extremely high taxes - to that end, we have created for ourselves a low-cost living situation that isn't dependent on having much in the way of cash flow. I like to say that my greatest accomplishment in life is to "live in poverty" - our core budget is right at the official poverty level for three single men. This is, I admit, a slight exaggeration, since we spend quite a bit more than that in practice, but that's only because we want to, not because we need to. Unemployment? Crushing tax burdens? Bring it on!

I don't share the apocalyptic bent of some people I know, but at the same time the whole range of possible outcomes is factored into my decisions. Mostly, that means "grin and bear it" - I work under the assumption of a 50% devaluation of every investment, with the understanding that the actual distribution of loss will be erratic and unpredictable. I'm also going to be holding some assets in Canada, whose dollar is looking increasingly stable. I don't place a big emphasis on gold, because it has been historically too volatile to serve as a secure investment. But in the event of a total currency collapse, the five coins we have stashed away would go a long way indeed; they'd probably be worth a year's salary in whatever regime would replace the current one. Needless to say, buying more of it back in '99 or thereabouts would have been a real good idea. That was one of many expensive mistakes I've made.

And yeah, guns. I don't have any of my own per se, but you might say I've outsourced my self defense to those better schooled in the art. ;-)

My prescription: less anger, more action. Know the numbers, accept the reality of the situation, and prepare yourself. The United States is a senescent country in a world where, eventually, everything grows old and dies. Just because we can't imagine what comes next doesn't mean it has to be awful. So long as our infrastructure remains in place, the US will always be a wealthy country. Even in the worst case, there's a lot to be said for new beginnings.

New toy

Jan. 8th, 2013 03:25 pm
snousle: (rakko)
Bought myself a Christmas present:



This is something that has been on my list for years. I have done quite a bit of experimenting with wok burners, most of it unsatisfactory, and have come to the conclusion that there is not much in the way of good substitutes for restaurant wok ranges.

The second-best thing I'd found was a heavy cast iron wok, round on the inside but with a small flat area on the bottom so it can stand by itself on a regular range. Heat that sucker up for 15 minutes and you can do a quick stir fry with about a pound of food. But once its heat is spent, you have to begin the cycle again, and wait another ten minutes or so for it to get ready. And cleaning it when it's hot is a bear.

This range is 125,000 BTU, in contrast to a regular restaurant range burner, which comes in at 35,000. (A quality residential range is only about 17,000 BTU.) There are other, less expensive ways to get that much flame, and I've got some outdoor burners that reach that level, but you end up toasting yourself before too long. This unit only lets the flame out the back, so the cook remains reasonably comforable. But you do have to be careful about lifting the wok while the flame is on, otherwise it's a great way to lose all your hard-won knuckle hairs.

The burners consist of 18 jets with a peculiar design, which you can see in more detail here, but this is what they look like in operation:



Firing it up is a little scary. Even with the stainless backboard and such, I spent a good bit of time making sure it wasn't roasting anything in its vicinity. The vent hood keeps up with it pretty well, and the rush of air coming up around it helps keep the surroundings cool. The oil baffles in the hood get a bit warm but not excessively so. I could imagine installing one of these outdoors, but it definitely isn't a residential device.

The main problem I'm having is soot, of which there is quite a bit. This unit is designed for propane but the flame is still mostly yellow. I don't think it's affecting the food but it makes things a little messy at clean-up time.

The good news? It makes things taste Chinese! I don't know quite how to describe it, but proper stir fries have a sultry, smoky-dark-alley aroma to them that comes about in part from extraordinarily high heat. Getting the right level of char is an art unto itself. It's going to be a while before I'm totally confident with this thing but my initial test - pork chow mein - was delicious. So I think we're going to have a Chinese banquet in the near future!

New Year

Jan. 1st, 2013 11:35 am
snousle: (river)
Had a rather nice time yesterday afternoon, hanging out in various neighbors' yards. The weather was beautiful, and one of the things I really like about ranch life is the existence of a lower-commitment form of socializing, happening outdoors, that doesn't imply invitation inside someone's home. It can be lots of fun, with kids, campfires, dogs, wildlife, beer... basically all the things you aren't allowed to do in cities.

The forest is extraordinarily beautiful this time of year, with a mix of dark green firs, glossy madrones, and decidious oaks cloaked in great, shaggy mounds of white lichens and mistletoe. The view up the hill looks as delicate and precious as any Japanese garden, but for some reason I am unable to capture its misty enchantment with a camera.

However, I did snap a nice picture of Grizzly and Bill that seemed shareworthy. She's so affectionate that "down, girl" has yielded to "you two go get a room!" It's not just me, though, she's that way with everyone. ;-)

snousle: (rakko)
Went to pick up Zelda, a friend of my aunt and uncle from way back. I was gobsmacked when she showed me an orchid plant, a modest little pleurothallis, that I had given her twenty five years ago. At a time when I am deeply rethinking my whole past, it was an amazing thing to see. I used to have quite a few, and was always interested in cloud forest orchids in particular. In fact it was one of the very first (if not THE first) plants I'd ever acquired.

Not sure if this is it but this is my best guess of what it looks like when it blooms:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/afriorchids/1050524813/
snousle: (rakko)
One of my favorite things about snowboarding is those fleeting moments of beauty in the mountains, when the light is just so.

Mt. Washington, Vancouver Island, BC.

snousle: (disapproving otter)
I cannot believe how much flap there has been over twenty murders in a country that experiences more than a thousand times that many every year. All because they were clustered in one place, with one perpetrator. All else being equal, is it not prereferable to have twenty children murdered by one madman, than twenty children murdered by twenty madmen? That, at least, is nineteen fewer madmen to contend with.

Unfortunately the media pile-on is not the result of any particular decision, its more like the weather, the confluence of many forces that are beyond human control. The story is not the murders; the story is the story, and the murders are incidental to that. As with 9-11, the reaction to the tragedy is far, far, far more tragic than the tragedy itself. It's like a national autoimmune disease, in which the whole country attacks and injures itself, in a way that is grossly disproportionate to the original assault.

What grates at me most, though, is the poor quality of reporting and discourse, which leaves me wondering whether to add to the manure pile or just ignore it. I think, though, that there is one thing worth saying, and saying very, very loudly:

Anyone who claims that there is a clear relationship between gun control policy and violence is a liar.

This applies to both the conventional liberal and conservative positions. This is a subject that has been studied out the wazoo, and the only consistent result has been that there is no consistent result. This applies not to imaginary scenarios, such as magically teleporting all guns into outer space, but to actions that can be plausibly and realistically carried out, such as mandating gun registration or passing concealed carry laws. Thanks to state level implementation of many different policies, there have been many natural experiments from which we can draw conclusions, and those conclusions are all over the map. Their inconsistency proves their unreliability. Unfortunately, discussion on the subject have been dominated by fabricated statistics that don't bear even a few minutes of scrutiny, and outright fantasies that don't even offer enough substance for critical analysis in the first place.

Never have I seen a subject that has revealed so much willful ignorance and cherry picking as this one. If there is a silver lining to all this, it's that nothing that is done in this area is really going to matter. Even if Obama makes it a priority, Congress has the opposite priority. Even if laws are passed, the demographics of gun ownership will change slowly, if at all. And if the demographics of gun ownership change, the effect on violent crime - which, incidentally, has been steeply decreasing for more than a decade - will probably not change in its unpredictable and always-surprising course. And if by some miracle it did, we would never even know it. The whole thing is just a giant waste of oxygen.
snousle: (scruffy)
OK, so a whole lot of flashy science announcements are kind of silly and gimmicky, but this is in my area of expertise and it definitely is not. When I saw this article, I confess my first thought was "oh, what now". It looked kind of fluffy and pompous. (Sorry, full text not available online for free.) But it turns out that DNA is a distinctive and possibly practical way of storing really really REALLY large amounts of information, if you are willing to go to a whole lot of work to read it out. That it has suddenly been accomplished for a multi-megabyte document is surprising, though not so much in retrospect. All the steps described make sense and use currently available technology, it was just put together in an unusually clever way. Current trends point towards this being a genuine niche application for some really esoteric librarians.

One thing about this that's sort of interesting is that if it gets really cheap, information could be mingled with the environment in a new way. Consider the possibilities of "data spray". You could encode a document into DNA and put it into a cologne, then later sequence it off of someone's lips after they kissed whoever used it. (As in, a spy could now actually do this today for maybe a few million dollars.)Silly example, but I'm sure real ones are not far behind. It all seems very James Bond.

(Update: quickie cell phone shot of article here.)
snousle: (scruffy)
Sigh... Internet is out again at home. The recent storm, I think, has damaged our wireless antenna, so the guy that does the networking for the ranch is coming out on Thursday to try out a new one. Hopefully I can install a higher-gain antenna so that it will be more reliable in the long run. In the meanwhile, there is a handy-dandy but somewhat Christian-themed internet cafe in town that lets you use wifi for free, and I've come down here to get some work done. No efforts at conversion have been attempted so far.

Lots to write about but no time for it now. I will just have to stash it away until service is up again.
snousle: (river)
John is away for a bit in Davis, doing his mad-scientist thing while the particle accelerator is (otherwise) idle for the long weekend. I took the occasion to watch what I knew would be a teary and sentimental film.



Hachi is a low-budget, probably made-for-video telling of the story of the famous Akita-inu that waited ten years at a train station in the hope that his deceased master would some day return. I've always had mixed feelings about the story, since in my mind it was not just a heart-warming tale of loyalty but also a warning about the hazards of emotional inflexibility. Taking it at face value, I thought, was glorifying one of the worst parts of Japanese culture.

I waited until I was alone to watch it. I'm not a big fan of this sort of movie because, in my media-averse world, film is a powerful and immersive experience that I can't take lightly. I knew this one, in particular, would be hard to sit through. This is why I am kind of harsh on film in general; I can't really compartmentalize a film as "mere fiction", and if something is going to remain with me as strongly as a real-life experience, I'm not going to tolerate crap. Unfortunately, most film IS crap, and a lot of promising ones end up being the most disappointing.

Anyway, it left me pretty much wrecked, though not in quite the way I had expected. In many ways, it's a typical American set-piece, spiced up with "white people problems", like being distracted while teaching a ballet class, and struggling to restore a charming antique theater. That's all a bit too precious for my taste. But as you might imagine, having a cute Akita on screen redeems everything. I particularly enjoyed the riff on how he was too self-important to play fetch. (No, YOU come here and get the ball FOR me, and I'll watch you throw it again!)

Dog films have an unfortunate tendency to paint a rose-colored view of any given breed, and really popular ones - 101 Dalmatians being the worst offender - can create big problems as children demand one of their own, expecting it to be just like the ones on the screen. Anyone with an Akita knows that letting them run free is just asking for trouble, so it's worth noting that the one completely unrealistic part of this story is that Hachiko never does anything seriously wrong, such as intimidating people or fighting with other dogs. I suppose in a small town in 1920s Japan it all worked out fine, but this laissez-faire approach makes the adaptation of this story to an American town seem a little far-fetched. As good a job as it did capturing Hachiko's personality, I would hate for this to be seen as an example of responsible Akita ownership.

I suppose the past 25 years have made me a little hard-hearted when it comes to human affairs, and in the context of all the shit that's happened I recognize the irony of completely losing it over a story about a dog. (Along those lines, there is nothing in all of literature that makes me tear up so much as Odysseus' reunion with Argos.) I guess that's the little crack in the emotional dam through which everything comes flooding out. So I poke at it only with some hesitation.

What struck me most strongly about Hachiko, though, was that his loyalty was not just a stubborn, inflexible obsession, that it was not actually futile or pointless, or even something he had a choice about in the first place. It's simply what he was, and in that seemingly impossible situation, he found his niche at the train station, one with lots of support and affection. So there is actually something very reassuring in this parable; the idea that no matter how unlikely your pursuit, merely having it as an organizing principle creates the space and support you need to keep it going. That, for me, was the biggest surprise in seeing the film - realizing that Hachiko was not some sad and miserable creature doomed to eternal disappointment, but that he actually had a rich and full life, surrounded by people who loved him for what he was. I wonder if, after a few years, he even remembered why he was at the station in the first place. Maybe it was just a nice place to be.

It was especially poignant, I guess, because all the while Kitsune has been patiently sitting by the front door waiting for John to get back. It's easy to believe that she'd wait there for the rest of her life. She's not indifferent to other doggy pleasures like walks and cookies in his absence, but you can't help but be struck by the single-mindedness of her attachment. I have, at times, been a bit jealous that she bonded to him rather than me, but the truth is he has always been the one to spend more time with her. She's been a very good influence on his health, pestering him to go out on walks and such when otherwise I think he'd sit at his desk forever.

Sigh. That unknowable something about the Akita never gets old; so pretty, so lovable, so aloof and inscrutable. They've got their own agenda, and you aren't necessarily part of it! For all its flaws, it really is a pleasure to see a film that presents them pretty much as they are. For those of you who are into that sort of thing, I have to give it a thumbs-up.
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